Silentium Magnum

Holy Saturday is always a day of the unusual for the observant Christian. It is a day of the Grand Silence, or Silentium Magnum in Latin. Silence…… the Lord is in the tomb and the apostles are struck with silence, uncomprehending what happened yesterday. Struck silent, save for the weeping of the women, perhaps of John too.

Silence, each one pondering, “Why?”

Why did the people turn on him? Why did Pilate turn him over when he knew he was innocent? ¬†Where is Judas now? Perhaps they were unaware as of yet of Judas’ deed. Perhaps they were thinking, “He too was killed, unknown to us.” I suspect they hadn’t found him yet, hanging from a tree. Why didn’t all that they thought would transpire happen? Why didn’t Jesus convincingly defend himself? Why didn’t I defend him? When are they going to come for us? When will we die?

Silence had overcome them. They could scarcely speak.

I suspect they were not in a blaming mood that day. I suspect they weren’t at that point. They were simply stunned to silence.

The Church from that day onward has struggled to understand the human betrayal of Judas Iscariot. We are so quick to condemn him. We ought be slow to do so. Yes, his deed was fatal, in more than one way. Are not our own misdeeds? Yes, my friends, we are very quick, aren’t we to assume the veniality of our sins. Yes, we are quick to rationalize our betrayals of Jesus. We are reluctant to see in ourselves the life of Judas. Judas chose money over God. His god was, at least for a few hours, mammon, not his Lord and Savior. We must admit, friends, that the same is true for us. We worship money, and this worship betrays our Lord.

O yes, we are quick to assume Judas has been condemned for his sin. We are quick to assume that he is in hell. Be careful what you assume. God’s mercy is infinite. The Church has never, and will never, definitively define that anyone is in hell. Be careful, for Judas may be the first to welcome you into heaven. We don’t know. But our quick condemnation of the person of Judas only serves to falsely protect us from the judgment that is due us. Our automatic casting Judas into hell reflects our inability to separate the person from the deed. His betrayal is to be condemned. How Judas is judged is God’s business, not our own. Remember the Scriptures which tell us that how we judge others will be how we are judged.

Today, the day of the Great Silence, is a day to withhold judgment. We are not to condemn. Enough of that has was done yesterday. Today is a day of acceptance and expectation. A day of reflection and wonder.

Tomorrow will be the day of rejoicing.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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